• Florence Price
  • To a Certain Pair of Newlyweds

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)


ed. John Michael Cooper

  • Piano
  • 1 min 30 s

Programme Note

Price planned to write more than one piece to a certain pair of newlyweds. The autograph is titled "Pieces to a Certain Pair of Newlyweds," and the composition presented here is headed "No. 1." If she did actually compose other pieces to complement the one given here, however, they have not survived intact: there are no other pages in the autograph and no other obviously related compositions headed "No. 2"; additionally, the nearly complete lack of dynamic and expressive markings toward the end of the piece presented here makes clear that the manuscript was completed in haste and thus raises the possibility that Price ran out of time before she was able to continue or complete the planned set. Until another autograph surfaces, it is not possible to determine the fate of the planned set.

At any rate, the surviving piece is another delightful contribution to Price's well-known juba repertoire — a dance style familiar from her First, Third, and Fourth Symphonies, as well as her Second String Quartet and Nathaniel Dett's well-known piano suite In the Bottoms (1913). As a dance, juba was always in lively tempo and duple meter, with prevalent dactylic or anapestic rhythms that would facilitate body percussion, along with syncopations and offbeat accents. Like most other dance types, musical juba usually employed episodic form, with a primary strain that would return at the end and perhaps in the middle, and one or more contrasting sections in the middle; these were typically also in contrasting, plagally related keys. To a Certain Pair of Newlyweds fits this model perfectly, and its many flavorful blue thirds further culturally associate this dance with an African American wedding celebration. The reprise of the A section is truncated, and Price includes a (for her) typical moment of harmonic richness with the feint to the dominant-seventh of the Neapolitan, E major, in m. 72 — a move that enharmonically recalls the blue C-flat that characterized much of the central B section (mm. 37-60).

— John Michael Cooper